05/30/2006 12:00AM

Smithwick, jump trainer, dies


Daniel M. "Mikey" Smithwick, a steeplechase trainer who is a member of Thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame, died on Monday of a form of Parkinson's disease at his home in Hyde, Va., according to the National Steeplechase Association. Smithwick was 77.

A distinguished steeplechase jockey in addition to his successful training career, Smithwick trained three Hall of Fame steeplechase horses, including Neji, and won a dozen steeplechase training titles between 1957 and 1970. He ranks eighth on steeplechase racing's all-time earnings list, with career purses of $4.3 million.

Smithwick was born in Baltimore to a racing family, and his brother, Patrick, was a four-time champion steeplechase jockey who was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1974. Daniel Smithwick was inducted the following year.

Smithwick's six champions were Neji, Ancestor, Bon Nouvel, Mako, Top Bid, and Straight and True. As an amateur jockey, Smithwick won the Maryland Hunt Cup six times, the Grand National timber race five times, and the Virginia Gold Cup three times.

"He was a tremendous rider, more at home on a horse than on foot," said his son, D.M. "Speedy" Smithwick, a steeplechase trainer based in Kentucky.

Smithwick is survived by his wife, Dot, though the two have been separated for 20 years; two sons, D.M. and Roger; and a longtime companion, Alexandra White. A memorial has been scheduled for Monday at St. James Church in Monkton, Md.